Oil Spill Cleanup Methods and the Use of ArcView (R) / GIS Desktop Software to Show Appropriate Response Techniques

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Stacy Myers

Second Advisor

Bart Baca

Third Advisor

Katie Lelis


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology can be very useful, in accelerating the decision-making process, to develop effective oil spill contingency plans. Arc View® is a desktop GIS software, and it allows researchers to easily store and manipulate valuable data required to develop an effective oil spill response strategy. Sensitive environmental areas can be identified and mapped through the use of Arc View®.

This study is a summary of oil spill response techniques emphasizing application to the John U. Lloyd State Park in Dania, Florida. John U. Lloyd Park (JUL) could be affected by oil pollution incidents because it is adjacent to Port Everglades, a busy port frequently visited by tanker vessels and various types of watercraft. Using GIS technology, the basic data necessary to develop an effective oil spill response are given.

A classification of the cleanup methods and response activities for oil spill on five groups of activities is used. Such groups of activities are oil spill containment, natural recovery, physical response methods (such as washing, removal, and in-situ treatment), and chemical I biological methods (such as dispersants, shoreline cleaners, solidifying agents, and bioremediation). One of the most environmentally friendly techniques used during a response operation is the enhancement of the natural biodegradation of oil; such technique is called Bioremediation. Bioremediation uses bacteria capability to biodegrade almost all organic contaminants and many inorganic contaminants (Doerffer, 1992 and NRC, 1993). Although bioremediation is a slow response technique, it could be useful in avoiding secondary environmental impacts. The most used response technique is the mechanical removal of spilled oil. However, using mechanical removal of oil without consideration of environmental risks could create more problems than it could solve because of huge amount of waste generated and the harmful physical impacts on the environment (Ferriere, 1993). Another physical response method is in-situ burning, which eliminates spilled oil quickly. However, some times in-situ burning cannot be applied because of secondary pollution effects that could occur in the vicinity due to air pollution. The applicability of an oil spill response method depends on several factors: type of oil, location of the spill, sensitive areas that could be affected, water temperature, weather conditions, type of shore-line, boat traffic, and so forth. In summary, several methods should be used to respond to a given oil spill to avoid environmental impacts and to ensure the safety and health of the public.

After analyzing raster geographic data of John U. Lloyd State Park (JUL), appropriate spill response methods were determined. The ArcView® Image Analysis extension (AlA), an extension to enhance image analysis abilities of Arc View® software, was used. Two tools or functions from AlA were used to gather image features of similar spectral value and create a land cover classification: a generalized unsupervised classification and the seed tool. Valuable information about protection of the environment from the effects of an oil spill is included as new themes and attribute tables. A literature research on oil spill response techniques was stored on an Arc View® Project (APR).

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